Winthrop Poll Finds SC Divided on Trump, Race

Racial discrimination, however, remains increasingly prevalent according to the new Winthrop Poll.

South Carolinians are divided over President Donald Trump’s ability to lead the country, according to a Winthrop Poll released Thursday.

Trump’s presidency is nary a month old, but already 47 percent of citizens disapprove of his handling of the job, while 44 percent say he’s doing a good job.

His approval rating from South Carolinians is slightly better than national poll numbers from CBS News and Gallup that put him at 39 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

More than three-fourths of Republicans, who helped Trump carry the state with more than half of the vote last November, approved of Trump.

Those numbers flipped along racial lines with 80 percent of black respondents disapproving of Trump. A similar number of blacks say Trump doesn’t “stand up for people like me” and a majority do not feel safe or confident in him.

Many racial divides were evident in the findings, although some numbers improved since the previous Winthrop Poll conducted last September.

Racism dropped from the second most important problem facing the country in September, to third in the new poll. About 40 percent of blacks described race relations in the country as poor, with 57 percent of whites rating them as either good or fair. Those numbers improved when respondents were asked about race relations in the state.

Racial discrimination, however, is increasingly prevalent.

Half of black respondents said they were discriminated against in the past year because of their race, while only 24 percent of whites say they were. Those responses were roughly five percentage points higher than results from an April 2016 Winthrop Poll.

South Carolina’s Gov. Henry McMaster has only been on the job for four weeks—since Gov. Nikki Haley became the Ambassador to the United Nations—and garnered a 44 percent approval rating. Some 36 percent of respondents couldn’t form an opinion on his nascent tenure.

Economic numbers bode well for McMaster, who will run for a full term in 2018, and has made increasing prosperity for all South Carolinians a primary message. Seventy percent of citizens say the state’s economy is fairly good to very good. Another 66 percent said state economic conditions are getting better.

Respondents viewed state economic conditions better than national conditions.

Immigration and the economy topped national concerns, while infrastructure, jobs and education were top problems facing the state.

Last September, infrastructure ranked as the fifth most important issue. The issue received renewed media coverage when the General Assembly reconvened in January. Several bills would increase the 16.75-cent per gallon gas tax to raise additional revenue for crumbling state roads and bridges. The House Republican bill, which would increase the tax by 10 cents over the next five years, is expected to be debated next week.

Though 6 out of 10 South Carolinians disapprove of how Congress is handling its job, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., remains increasingly popular with a 55 percent approval rating. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., saw support tick up to 44 percent. Graham’s approval rating was only slightly higher among Republican respondents.

Additional findings:

· Four out of five residents favored making it a crime to post online or share sexually explicit pictures without the expressed consent of those in the pictures.
· Eighty-one percent of respondents favored requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees unless the employer could demonstrate that the accommodation imposed an undue hardship on the business.
· Sixty-three percent favored an amendment to the S.C. Constitution to create an Independent Reapportionment Commission that would be in charge of redrawing lines when the population changes.
· More than 80% approved of the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the young man who entered the historically black Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston and shot ten members who were gathered for Bible study in June 2015. Nine of them died. Roof received the death penalty in January.

Winthrop pollsters surveyed 703 South Carolinians by landline and cell phone from Feb. 12-21. The poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

The full findings can be found here